My name is Sara Funkhouser and I am going to be a freshman at Concordia College! Like Adam, I went to Lame Deer, Montana. I have been on three mission trips and I have worked with children for the last two. Last year, I felt as if I was simply a friend to the children. This year, I felt like a mother.
For two days, I was blessed with the opportunity to assist with Kid’s Club; it is a summer program for children that allows them time to be kids, get creative, and experience God’s word. I began my time there swinging with a young girl named Shantel. The entire time that we were swinging together, she would just giggle. After a while, I began working with a young boy named Kevin, and the trip was not the same after that first encounter.
When I first began to work with Kevin, he was absolutely silent. He would not speak, nod his head, anything. He just stood there, looking into space. Then, I asked him if he wanted a piggyback ride, and he did not leave my side after that. We went everywhere together. Which meant that Kevin was almost always on my back. We would go between the playground and the reading station. We went up and down the hill countless times. Kevin would just sit on my back saying, “With speed! With speed!” So, I would run as fast as I could while making sure Kevin never fell off. At first he was afraid that I was going to drop him or that he was going to fall off, but eventually he learned that if he told me that he thought he was slipping, I would put him up higher on my back and on with the adventures we would go. We would run all around the park, well fly because I was his spaceship, and we would collect imaginary treasures as we went. He even let me stop for more fuel whenever I wasn’t running quite as fast; to check he used my neck and would tell me if my fuel levels were low.
While we were often running around, he and I both enjoyed some of the quieter times. Together we would sit in the shade and he would sit on my lap as we read story after story. He especially loved Clifford, so I think we read that at least three times every day. I was also able to ride along in the van that brought him home one day.
On the van rides home, the children received animal crackers. Those mean animal crackers tried to eat me. Don’t worry, though. Kevin ate them in order to protect me. Less than two minutes after asking for more “cookies,” as the kids called them, his little head began to bob. He fell asleep sitting next to me in the van, and he looked so peaceful.
On the last night, we had a community cookout. Kevin and his older brother Markis came to eat with us. Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle during the preparations. When I came outside on crutches, they both rushed over to where I was sitting. Markis walked up to me and gave me a hug, while Kevin came and sat down on my leg like he had done so many times earlier in the week. He then walked back to where he had been sitting, talked to one of the adult leaders, Bob, and came back a few seconds later. Bob was carrying Kevin’s food over to my table because Kevin wanted to sit next to me and make me feel better. Bob walked over to their car with them when it was time to leave. He came back and told myself and the other girls sitting at the table not to cry. Then he said, “Markis told me to tell you that he loves you.” I cried, right then and there. From the first piggyback ride I knew that God had put us into each other’s lives for a reason.
Love is sometimes unexpected, but it is still wonderful all the same. I want to thank everyone who aids in making these trips possible. Without your love and support, I never would have worked with some incredible people over the past three years. And, while I am now too old to participate in mission trips as a student, I look forward to the time when I can be an adult leader to assist other teenagers in their faith journeys. Mission trips are life-changing. It is not something that words can describe, but it is something that has to be felt. I know for a fact that my life will not be the same because I spent two days with Kevin and Markis in Montana.